Episode 24 - Authenticity vs Integrity
Jen: Hello Peter.
Peter: Hey Jen.
Jen: What is your middle name?
Peter: My middle name is Jonathan.
Jen: Peter Jonathan Shepherd - I need to speak to you about something that I read that has rocked my world, and this has to do with the distinction between authenticity and integrity. Prepare yourself, Peter Jonathan Shepherd, because there will be life before what I'm about to read you, and life after what I'm about to read you. Can you handle it?
Peter: I think I can handle it. This is The Long and The Short Of It.
Jen: All right, Peter Jonathan Shepherd -
Peter: Wait, what's your middle name?
Jen: Leigh. L. E. I. G. H.
Peter: L. E. I. G. H. Noted. Jennifer Leigh Waldman.
Jen: That's right. Tell the readers, the listeners, the people who consume things. I’m so excited, I can't even think straight. What am I holding up right now?
Peter: You are holding up a book by Seth Godin, of course, and it's the book called This is Marketing, which is his latest book, which came out about six months ago, I think.
Jen: Okay, the long of it is too long, so I'm going to go with the short of it and read you a little passage from this book, and the passage is from a chapter called "Beyond Commodities," and the little section, if you're following along at home, starts on page seventy-five, and it is titled "Authenticity Versus Emotional Labor." And I quote, "Emotional labor is the work of doing what we don't feel like doing. It's about showing up with a smile when we're wincing inside, or resisting the urge to chew someone out, because you know that engaging with him will make a bigger difference. It takes a small amount of energy and guts to be authentic. You need to feel confident enough to let your true feelings be exposed, knowing that if you're rejected, it's personal. But there's a lot of hiding involved as well, hiding from the important work of making change happen. If all you do is follow your" - and he has in parentheses - "(make-believe) muse, you may discover that the muse is a chicken, and it's steering you away from the important work. And if the authentic you is a selfish jerk, please leave him at home. If you need to be authentic to do your best work, you're not a professional, you're a fortunate amateur..." And he goes on, but I will stop there and just reiterate the two things that I had to underline, highlight, circle and star: "It takes a small amount of energy and guts to be authentic. You need to feel confident enough to let your true feelings be exposed, knowing that if you're rejected, it's personal." I think this is really, really important. We're going to talk about why in a moment, but the idea that sometimes it is personal is important. And then the other part, that "if you need to be authentic to do your best work, you're not a professional. You're a fortunate amateur." And he says "fortunate," because you have a gig where being the person you feel like being in the moment actually helps you move forward. So the thing that is blowing my mind about this is, I believe very strongly in the concept of integrity, and I have felt less energized by the word "authentic," but I could never have told you why. But then when I read this, I was like, "Yes, Seth, this is why, because authenticity and integrity are not the same thing." You do not have to be authentic in every moment to be a person of integrity.
Peter: Tell me more, tell me more, tell me more.
Jen: Peter Jonathan Shepherd -
Peter: You're on a roll. Keep going.
Jen: Well, it's, it's potentially a life-changing idea for me, because it essentially means that you get to choose in every moment how you show up, and how you show up is not necessarily based on how you feel like showing up. So if I don't feel like being on this call with you today, I could be authentic about that. It'd be like, "You know what, Pete, I'm tired. I'm just not feeling it. This caffeine is not kicking in," or whatever the excuse is, and say, "You know what? Let's just push it off for another day until I feel more authentically into it." Or I could say, "I am a person of integrity. What I believe, what I say and what I do exist in alignment with each other, and so I have said to you we are recording this episode today at 3:30 PM Eastern time, and so I show up, and I show up for you, and I show up for the listeners, and it has nothing to do with me and how I feel."
Peter: Hmm. I was going to say and that's also, to the other point that he mentioned, is that's the emotional labor, right? Do you think that, like, when you hear "emotional labor," do you think that that is maybe not "transferable," but closely with integrity?
Jen: Yes, yes. I think emotional labor and integrity go hand in hand, but emotional labor and authenticity do not.
Peter: Yeah, I agree. Because I think, and this goes to so many of the things we've talked about around consistently showing up, consistently thinking about "who's it for" and "what's it for" and consistently leaning into discomfort and imposter syndrome is authenticity, is almost, like, it's a way of hiding, of being like, "Oh, but I'm being authentic." Whereas emotional labor is the hard part of showing up, even when you don't feel like showing up. And you can extend this metaphor into, like, sports. You hear elite sports people talk about, they train at six in the morning when they just can't be bothered training anymore. And that's physical labor, but it is emotional labor too, it's like, "Oh, the thought of getting up and doing this again. But I'm a person of integrity, I'm a person who's committed to excellence and mastery and so that is what I must do." Not being authentic, but being brave enough and willing enough to act with integrity and lean into emotional labor. Hmm. And do you think it's too sweeping a statement for me to say authenticity is easier then acting with integrity or leaning into emotional labor?
Jen: Yes. Yes, yes, yes. Tell me more, Peter Jonathan Shepherd.
Peter: Well, I think the word "labor" is, like, so important to just highlight when Seth talks about "emotional labor," and if we're saying it's closely related with integrity, then I think it's, it's worth talking about, because a "labor" suggests something is laborious, something is difficult, something is hard, something is heavy, something is, like, weighing on us, and we have to, you know, lean into or get used to discomfort in order to get through something. And so I think, like we all do in various parts of our lives, we look for the easy part, the easy option, the thing that isn't as heavy and laborious and painful to do. And that is why people have things like writer's block, and that is why people don't make the podcast that they've been thinking about making for six years, because it's laborious, it's hard, and then they don't want to do the emotional labor, and show up even when they can't be bothered. And so they tell themselves a story that they are being authentic, and maybe it's not for them, and that they don't have the right podcast gear, and they're better off serving the people that they seek to serve in other ways. So I think it's like, a place where we, I don't know, even stop to ask ourselves or prompt ourselves, "Am I hiding in my authenticity here?" like, "What am I hiding from?" Or another way of asking it is, "Am I doing the emotional labor?" Like, I've used that question quite a lot myself, and I think it's a question that we can come back to almost every day.
Jen: So I just want to highlight that podcast example. Not, not because we're making a podcast, just cause I think it's an easy one for people to wrap their brain around. Making a podcast is not the hard part; the act of making the podcast is actually the easy part. Acknowledging that people are going to listen to it and figuring out how to bring your podcast to the people who need to hear it and showing up in service of them knowing that they may or may not like what you have made, that is the hard part.
Peter: Right. So this is interesting. Is this the root, do you think, of almost all emotional labor, is like, that's a sweeping generalization, but is it true that we hide from emotional labor because it's scary, and we're fearful, and if we considered fear as an onion, which I know you and I have talked about before offline, is fear being like an onion, and if you unpeal the onion, at the core of it is the main fear, the root of all fears, which is the fear of other people's opinions.
Jen: I think it is absolutely accurate, center of the bullseye, which ironically is kind of the next point I wanted to make about this, the center of the bullseye, the idea of why when we focus on "what" - so for example, and it's the podcast, it's so hard to figure out the podcast - we're getting away from our "why." And when we focus on why we do what we do, why we make what we make, that part is the emotional labor. I believe, and I'm willing to be tested on this and proven wrong, but right now what I believe is that emotional labor one hundred percent of the time is about humans, not about products, not about services, not about things, but about people.
Peter: Mhm. So emotional labor is aligned with "why," do you think?
Jen: I do. "Why?" and "how?"
Peter: Yeah, okay. This is interesting cause I just wrote down that one way of framing that is in terms of, if we have a lot of struggle, I mean, we all struggle with the discomfort of emotional labor. So one way of framing it, maybe, is that starting with "Why?" and thinking about "Why?" and "How?" is generous, whereas thinking about "What?" and thinking about being authentic is selfish. And I don't think there's many people out there that want to be someone who considers themselves selfish. I think most of us seek to be generous, and that I think is what starting with "Why?" reminds us to do, is to be in service of other people, to make a contribution to other people, and I think that, yeah, if we can think about emotional labor as a generous act, that could be, that could be somewhat useful.
Jen: So I'd like to take this into the next layer of Simon Sinek's Golden Circle, because the "Why?" is going to be the thing that we use as a North Star, the thing that is constant and guides us in the direction we're meant to go. The second layer of the golden circle, the "Hows" layer is where the emotional labor takes place, because the "Hows" are the actions that you take when you are functioning at your natural best. The thing that's worthwhile about doing something like a "Why? Discovery" is, when you come out of it, on the other side, you have your "Why statement," and for those of you who are like, "What the hell is Jen talking about?" there's a great book called Find Your Why, which outlines this whole process. So you, you exit that process with a "why statement," and five articulated "how" statements, which, when you are feeling like you have to be authentic instead of in integrity, that would be a great time to look at your "hows" and say, "Wait a minute, I have proof that when I'm operating at my natural best, these are the things I am doing. These are the things I am actually doing to show up in integrity and live my 'Why.'" So I think about the "Why" and the "Hows" as being the emotional labor part of this. And it's really exciting to me to have just made that connection, so thank you, Seth Godin for that little nugget.
Peter: Seth delivers once again.
Jen: As does Simon.
Peter: As does Simon, two of our favorites.
Jen: So now the question becomes, what to do, what to do with this moment of clarity? I can see how there are places in my own life I could apply this need to be authentic immediately as a, like, "Get real, Jen. Live your 'Why.' Focus on your 'Hows,' show up with the emotional labor." For example, we got home really late last night after being significantly delayed on a flight. I did not get a full night's sleep last night, and I, after you and I get off this call, I'm going to go pick my daughter up from choir practice, and she is going to want to talk my ear off basically until bedtime. Now, part of me is going to want to say, "Kate, I am so tired. I had such a long day at work. You had a long day at school. Let's just take a little break and quiet ourselves down." But that would be me being authentic, and not me being in integrity with myself. And knowing that my "why" is to help people know themselves so that they can express themselves, if my daughter is expressing herself to me, and I shut it down because I need to be authentic, I am literally doing the opposite of living my "why."
Peter: Yeah, selfish versus generous again. Interesting. Interesting.
Jen: Authenticity is about taking care of ourselves?
Peter: I don't know. Yeah, maybe. So authen- like, when you think about "authentic" - before we hopped on this call, if you had asked me to define "authentic," I'm trying to think what I would have said. I think I would have said something along the lines of, "telling the truth and being honest," you know, something like that. Do you think that's still, like, applies, still stands? Is that what authenticity is about?
Jen: I don't know. I gotta, I gotta read it again, because the thing that really, the thing that really struck me was this idea that it takes a small amount of energy and guts to be authentic. So, a small amount to be authentic, you need to feel confident enough to let your true feelings be exposed. So that's what he's calling as "authentic," knowing that if you're rejected, it is personal. That's another part that's like, oh my gosh, authentic is personal. Like, we kind of have to deal with that - taking things personally and setting yourself up to take things personally. What a great excuse to not do anything.
Peter: Exactly. So you're like, "I'm acting authentically, so I'm being truthful." And if someone doesn't like it, I take it personally and I say, "Well, they don't like it, so I don't have to do it anymore."
Jen: So Seth's definition, I think is, "letting your true feelings be exposed." That's authenticity.
Peter: Yeah. Yeah.
Jen: And in his parlance, emotional labor is, "doing what we don't feel like doing. Emotional labor is the work we do to provide service."
Peter: Right. I think this is really important, it's like, Seth also talks about in that book, you know, this idea of "who's it for," we've talked about a thousand times, but it's - the people you serve may not care about you being truthful. In fact, they probably don't care about you being truthful. They care about - well, sorry, I don't want to say that they don't care about you being truthful, but they don't necessarily care about your authenticity. They care about whether you can help them solve their problem, genuinely help them solve their problem, and the emotional labor of helping them see that is part of you having to remove yourself and put your authenticity aside and say, "I'm going to show up in service of this person. Not because it's about me, because it's about them."
Jen: Yeah. I'm also thinking about how some of the people who I follow in social movements, I really do not need them to be authentic. Like, that would actually be a disaster, in terms of some of the ideas they are looking to push forward. For example, I follow several people who are leaders in the inclusion movement. It would be devastating if one of them got up to a microphone and said, "You guys, I'm just too tired to do this today."
Peter: Yeah. "Yeah, I just can't be bothered anymore."
Jen: "Yeah, it's just, it's too exhausting. So if you guys don't mind, let's, let's put this speech off until tomorrow." Um, but no, they are a person of integrity, and I'm just going to double down on my own definition of integrity; that what you believe and what you say and what you do, they match. That is a person of integrity. So if you believe in inclusion, and it doesn't matter if you feel like getting up and talking about it that day or not, you do it, and then you say what you believe. You say it out loud.
Peter: That's what it means to do the emotional labor, Jennifer Leigh Waldman.
Jen: Oh wow.
Peter: What a journey.
Jen: What a journey. It's blowing my mind. It's blowing my mind. That's all. That's all.
Peter: And that is The Long and The Short Of It.